In a quarterback driven league, teams in the NFL steer towards pure desperation to land a quality signal caller. It is for that reason alone; the Oakland Raiders should keep every line of communication wide open in April’s draft.
No matter if the team picks at No. 9 or 10 overall, general manager Reggie McKenzie should listen to any offers for the Silver & Black’s pick. Especially considering teams below them are in the hunt for a franchise QB.
Here are two trade-down scenarios that are not beyond the realm of possibility:
Arizona Cardinals, 1st round pick No. 15 overall
Carson Palmer riding off into the sunset leaves a cavernous hole for the desert birds. Not to mention backups Drew Stanton, Blaine Gabbert and Matt Barkley are impending free agents come mid-March. New head coach Steve Wilks exuded a sense of urgency stating Arizona will be “active and aggressive” when it comes to the position.
Can Arizona keep pace with other QB-needy teams that will surely pony up for Kirk Cousins? The likeliest bet is the Cardinals making a play for a quarterback in the draft. Jumping up six or five slots (dependent on which pick Oakland gets after the coin toss with the San Francisco 49ers) to nab Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield, perhaps.
Not to mention the face of the franchise, Larry Fitzgerald, decision to return for a 2018 campaigns rides on the new signal caller.
“It’s all predicated on who’s throwing the ball,” Fitzgerald said. “I can’t do my job at the level you want to do it if you don’t have somebody there that can consistently get it to you. I’ve had some years in Arizona where things weren’t always easy, but they’ve always done a good job of addressing that position, and they’re trying to.”
In return, the Raiders get the 15th overall pick and either another 2018 or future draft selection. Five to six slots down may seem like a lot, but if the Raiders believe they can seize the player they covet, the drop nets said prospect and extra picks.
Buffalo Bills, 1st round pick No. 21 overall
Fair or foul, Bills head coach Sean McDermott is keen on not having Tyrod Taylor as his quarterback. If being benched for turnover-prone rookie Nathan Peterman was not the red herring, Taylor’s unwillingness to restructure his fat contract (Buffalo can save $10 million by axing the QB) all but assures his tenure as a Bill is over.
Peterman is a McDermott guy (and we saw how awful he was). Moreover, Taylor was not a major problem for Buffalo, surely not the primary cause of the team’s shortcomings. Yet, the Bills will once again circle the wagons for a signal caller this offseason.
Going from No. 9 or 10 to 21 is a substantial drop, one that may be too steep for McKenzie’s blood. However, the Bills do own the 53 and 56 overall picks and that free fall can be soothed if the Raiders finagle one of those two second round picks.
The longshot: Raiders trading up.
The only viable option this early in the process is with the Cleveland Browns at No. 4 overall. This is the pick Cleveland got from the Houston Texans (traded a year ago to land QB DeShaun Watson).
Whether or not the new GM John Dorsey nabs a signal caller at No. 1 overall, the Browns could drop down and still land one.
Question is whom would the Raiders trade up to get? NC State pass rusher Bradley Chubb? Penn State running back Saquon Barkley? For as unlikely as it might be, trading up is an aggressive move, one that screams Jon Gruden. Still, McKenzie has made it clear he loves draft picks. That is acquiring them, not trading them away.